Mahmud Sami Muhammad ‘Ali Wasil v. The Minister of Education

Case No. 8 of Judicial Year 17 (1996)

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Mahmud Sami Muhammad ‘Ali Wasil v. The Minister of Education

Egypt Supreme Constitutional Court
Case No. 8 of Judicial Year 17 (1996)

KS

Facts

In the 1980 and early 1990s, the practice of veiling and wearing the full-face veil known as the niqab became highly contentious in Egypt. Wearing a niqab became associated with radical Islamism and efforts to overthrow Egypt’s secular government. Concerned with the increased numbers of women wearing veils, the Egypt Ministry of Education (the ministry) (defendant) issued in 1994 an official decision regulating women’s dress in school. Controversially, the decision’s uniform and dress code prohibited schoolgirls from wearing veils. In response to intense public opposition, the government order was modified to allow any girl who received written permission from her parents to wear a hijab that would cover her hair but not her face. Under the revised uniform dress code, girls who wore a hijab without parental permission or wore a niqab would be expelled from school. Mahmud Sami Muhammad ‘Ali Wasil (plaintiff), on behalf of his daughters, challenged the ministry’s decision in administrative court, arguing that the uniform code and its prohibition on wearing a niqab violated shari’a law and the Egyptian constitution. The administrative court referred the case to the Egypt Supreme Constitutional Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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